Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Goodbye Lonesome George

The symbol of the Galapogos and last of his species; the Pinta Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni), said to be over 100 years old, shuffled off this mortal coil on Sunday leaving us one species shorter, (to quote Hamlet).
Lonesome George at his home on Santa Cruz Island. Photo: Reuters

He was dicovered on Pinta Island in 1972, a happy discovery at the time as the species was already thought to be extinct, but researchers failed to breed him, as no known offspring or others from his subspecies were to be found he was the rarest creature on earth, and the loneliest, hence his name.
 Tortoises were common on the Galapogos Islands until the 19th century when they became hunted for their meat to the point of extinction, as in the case of the Pinta Island subspecies this has now became true. The Galapogos Islands tortoises were even one of the species that helped Darwin form his theory of evolution.

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